Eluding National Boundaries: A Case Study of Commodified Citizenship and the Transnational Capitalist Class
1.1. Research Question and Case Selection
2. Commodification of the Dominica Citizenship
- “Donation” to Government Fund
- A—Single ApplicantNon-refundable investment of US $100,000
- B—Family Application (one applicant plus spouse)Non-refundable investment of US $175,000
- C—Family Application 2 (one applicant plus spouse and two children under age 18Non-refundable investment of US $200,000
- D—Family Application 3 (one applicant plus more than two children under age 18)Non-refundable investment of US $200,000 and $50,000 for each additional person under age 18
- Real Estate Investment
- US $50,000 for the main applicant
- US $25,000 for the spouse of the main applicant
- US $20,000 for each child of the main applicant under eighteen (18) years of age
- US $50,000 for each dependent of the main applicant above the age of eighteen (18) years, other than his or her spouse.
2.1. Dominica’s Commodified Citizenship in Context
2.2. Dominica’s Commodified Citizenship since 2004
3. Commodified Citizenship and the TCC
Conflicts of Interest
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For a snapshot of Dominica’s key development indicators, see https://data.worldbank.org/country/Dominica.
See Figure 1. More citizenships were sold in 2013 alone compared to the years 1990–2003 combined.
CARICOM is a union of 20 countries the main objective of which is economic integration and the coordination of foreign policy. CARICOM is home to 60 million people and includes islands in the Caribbean, Guyana, Suriname, and Belize. http://caricom.org/about-caricom/who-we-are/.
The Caribbean Basin Initiative provides duty-free access to US markets for most goods. https://ustr.gov/issue-areas/trade-development/preference-programs/caribbean-basin-initiative-cbi.
One-China Policy is a foreign relations approach in which the PRC requires its partners to accept that there is one legitimate government which represents the people of China and to engage in diplomatic relations with the PRC means breaking relations with the ROC (Taiwan). This policy is based on the idea that “if Taiwan should be alienated from the mainland, China will forever be locked to the west side of the first chain of islands in the West Pacific, and … the essential strategic space for China’s rejuvenation will be lost” .
TCC in this article means those seeking to organize the conditions under which global capital and the global system under which it operates can be furthered within the transnational, interstate, national, and local contexts.
For an in-depth look at the proliferation of social assistance in the form of “Red Clinics” in the developing world as a response to the neoliberal era, see Kevan Harris and Ben Scully’s paper , A Hidden Counter-Movement?
This is part of an ongoing project by the author that began in 2014. The author has collected data (and continues to collect data) on naturalized citizenship in Dominica (including citizenship by cash payment, purchase of real estate, and residency). This data includes the names of these citizens, their countries of origin, their countries of residency, and the year they received their citizenship.
Taiwan ICDF (established in 1996) has its roots in the International Economic Cooperation Development Fund (IECDF), which was started during the height of Taiwan’s economic boom, to provide economic assistance to its developing partner countries. Today, ICDF provides lending and investment, technical cooperation, humanitarian assistance, and international education and training for its partner countries. In the Caribbean, it is part of the ROC’s continuing efforts to preserve its existing foreign relationships with the developing world especially given the increasing Chinese influence in those regions.
Formed in 1981, the OECS is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to economic harmonization and integration, protection of human and legal rights, and the encouragement of good governance between 7 (now 10) countries in the Eastern Caribbean. http://www.oecs.org/.
Dominica has a small population of indigenous people called the Kalinago. The Carib Territory was established in 1903 by British colonial authorities. The Carib people refer to themselves as the Kalinago People and in 2015 lobbied the government to officially rename the Carib Territory the Kalinago Territory.
The idea of a “cabbage strategy” is attributed to Chinese military theorist and member of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, Zhang Zhaozhong. It involves asserting a territorial claim and gradually surrounding the area with multiple layers of security, thus denying access to a rival. The strategy relies on a steady progression of steps to outwit opponents and create new facts on the ground.
That tendency to present China as an all-encompassing entity when studying its relationship with countries both in the Global North and South has been diminishing in academia. A good example, would be C.K. Lee’s article for the New Left Review  calling for more sophistication in studying China’s relation to the world.
One could also argue that criminals are also natural consumers of commodified citizenship. However, for now, the expectation is that countries like Dominica that engage in commodified citizenship are doing their due diligence with regards to the sale of citizenships. Of course, like other small island nations engaging in commodified citizenship, Dominica has experienced its share of scandals (such as the Nigerian former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, being issued a diplomatic passport on 29 May 2015, within one month of meeting Dominica’s Prime Minister R. Skerrit—Madueke was being investigated for corruption in Great Britain ; and Alireza Zibahalat Monfared who was carrying a diplomatic passport of Dominica when he was arrested during an international manhunt ) that the Skerrit administration is addressing through a series of policy changes . Both cases involve diplomatic passports, which is mostly left to the discretion of the Prime Minister. This aspect of the commodified citizenship program is important but should be best pursued in a different article due to space limitations here.
The data is collected from the Commonwealth of Dominica Official Gazette, Published by Authority, Roseau, Dominica. Each year, a number of volumes are published documenting official government announcements. The gazettes are mined for data for each year from all the issues beginning with Volume CXVI No. 20 to Volume CXXXIX No. 14. Every first and last name, the country of current citizenship, the country of residence, country of birth, and date registered as a Dominican citizenship through the citizenship by investment (CBI) program are recorded. Figure 1 provides a summary of this data.
Here, I mean development either from the point of view of industrialization/manufacturing as a means of “catching up” (à la Rostow ) or from a poverty reduction/sustainable development perspective.
|Name of Authorized Agency||Location of Offices|
|AAA Investor Immigration Ltd.||Roseau|
|Alick C. Lawrence Chambers/The Nestman Group Ltd.||Roseau|
|Apex Capital Partners||Roseau and Moscow|
|Arton Capital (Dominica) Ltd.||Roseau|
|Bayat Law Group Inc.||Dubai|
|Belnor Associates Inc.||Roseau|
|Caribbean Citizenship Inc.||Roseau|
|Caribbean Commercial & IP Law Practitioners LLP||Roseau|
|Passpro Immigration Services||Dubai|
|Caribbean Consulting Services Ltd.||Roseau|
|Caribbean Consulting Service Ltd.||Rotterdam|
|Caribbean –Sino Consulting Services Ltd.||Zicak, Portsmouth|
|Citizenship Invest Ltd.||Roseau|
|CTrust Global Ltd.||Dubai|
|De Freitas, De Freitas & Johnson Chambers||Roseau|
|Design Management Ltd.||Roseau|
|Dominica International Investment Corporation Ltd.||Roseau, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon,|
|Duncan G. Stowe||Roseau|
|Global Citizenship Programs Ltd.||Roseau|
|Guide Consultants Inc.||Roseau|
|Harvey Law Group||Roseau|
|Lennox Lawrence (Vardikos and Vardikos)||Athens|
|Lennox Lawrence (Alfred Management and Business Consultancy)||Dubai|
|Lennox Lawrence (Corporate Solutions)||St. Kitts|
|Modern Agricultural Ventures Inc.||Roseau|
|Montreal Management Consultants Est. Ltd.||Morne Daniel, Roseau, Sharjah|
|NL Citizenship Ltd.||Roseau|
|Savory and Partners||Dubai|
|Second Citizenship Ltd.||Roseau|
|Sunstone Incorporated—Tranquility BeachDominica DOMINICA||Roseau|
|Verlyn Liz-Ann Faustin||Roseau|
|Financial Year||Project Description||Budget in Millions XCD||Actual Exp. in Millions XCD|
|2009–2010||Const. Melville Hall Fire Station||1||0.73|
|Reconst. of Portsmouth Secondary School||1.71||1.5|
|Rehab. of West Coast Road||5.81||5.81|
|2010–2011||Const. Melville Hall Fire Station||2||1.28|
|Rehab. of West Coast Road||44.18||44.18|
|Repairs to Primary Schools||0.214||0.214|
|Assistance to Farmers affected|
|by Hurricane Tomas||0.28||0.28|
|Housing Assistance in LaPlaine||0.045||0.045|
|2011–2012||Const. Melville Hall Fire Station||3||1.93|
|Reconst. of Newtown Primary School||0.4||0.376|
|Const. Carib Territory Housing Project||1.3||1.29|
|Rehab. of West Coast Road||25||41|
|Assistance to Layou River Flood Victims||0.37||0.21|
|2012–2013||Const. Carib Territory Housing Project||2.6||1.48|
|Const. Melville Hall Fire Station||1.8||1.24|
|2012–2014 (YTD)||Const. Carib Territory Housing Project||1.29||0.84|
Total = $185M
Trinidad and Tobago—11% ($19.6M)
South Korea—7.5% ($14M)
Total = $361M
Trinidad and Tobago—13% ($48.8M)
Total = $213MUS—27% ($56.8M)
Trinidad and Tobago—11% ($23.7M)
South Korea—4.4% ($9.31M)
Total = $321M
Trinidad and Tobago—10%($33.2M)
Total = $272M
Trinidad and Tobago—14% ($37.5M)
Total = $258M
Trinidad and Tobago—13% ($34.4M)
Total = $68.1M
Antigua and Bermuda—5.2% ($3.5M)
Total = $97.3M
Saudi Arabia—12% ($11.5M)
Trinidad and Tobago—5.2% ($5.07M)
Total = $77.1M
Antigua and Bermuda—5.4% ($4.14M)
Total = $59.2M
Trinidad and Tobago—7.4% ($4.36M)
Saudi Arabia—5.7% ($3.39M)
Total = $80.9M
Antigua and Bermuda—7.2% ($5.85M)
Total = $81.4M
Trinidad and Tobago—8.5% ($6.91M)
Saudi Arabia—7.7% ($6.26M)
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Grell-Brisk, M. Eluding National Boundaries: A Case Study of Commodified Citizenship and the Transnational Capitalist Class. Societies 2018, 8, 35. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8020035
Grell-Brisk M. Eluding National Boundaries: A Case Study of Commodified Citizenship and the Transnational Capitalist Class. Societies. 2018; 8(2):35. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8020035Chicago/Turabian Style
Grell-Brisk, Marilyn. 2018. "Eluding National Boundaries: A Case Study of Commodified Citizenship and the Transnational Capitalist Class" Societies 8, no. 2: 35. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8020035